|
|
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch - Sleepy Eye, MN
  • Bitter cold, straining propane supplies make prices spike

  • Snow blowers whirred and shovels scraped across sidewalks Monday as Sleepy Eye started cleaning up from another winter storm that created blizzard conditions on Sunday.
    • email print
  • Snow blowers whirred and shovels scraped across sidewalks Monday as Sleepy Eye started cleaning up from another winter storm that created blizzard conditions on Sunday.
     
    Monday brought some of the coldest temperatures the area has seen in decades with stiff winds causing wind chills in the -40sº F and -50sº F. Those temperatures are cold enough for exposed skin to suffer frostbite in just five minutes.
     
    For most of the winter much of the U.S. has been in the grip of a polar vortex, which is a whirlwind of extremely cold, extremely dense air that forms near the poles. Usually the fast winds in the vortex keep that cold air locked up in the Arctic. But when the winds weaken, the Arctic air can escape and spill southward, bringing Arctic weather with it, leading to record-breaking cold
     
    The newest wave of cold air is helping to deplete fuel supplies and send prices for propane and natural gas to record highs. Those who find themselves needing propane during this cold snap will likely pay $100-$200 more per fill than last month.
     
    The winter weather is also causing a strain on propane nationwide including the Brown County area. Tighter propane reserves across the nation doesn’t mean your supplier will run out of fuel anytime soon, however, expect to pay more to keep your house warm.
     
    Kevin Subart, general manager at River Region Cooperative said at current prices, customers are paying significantly more per gallon this year than last year at this time.
     
    As of Monday, Jan. 27, the price of propane was $4.80 per gallon. Prices last year at this time were about $1.80 a gallon.
     
    He noted that based on higher prices and tighter supplies, River Region has started cutting back on the amount of propane it delivers to each customer.
     
    “Inventory levels for the whole country are drawn down because of this cold snap and there is a huge demand,” Subart said. “The reason prices are getting out of hand is the simple economic rule of supply and demand.”
     
    To put further strains on supply, some pipelines that traditionally carry propane from Texas and Canada have been re-purposed to carry other products Subart said. In addition, bitter cold disrupted rail and truck service, further delaying fuel shipments.
     
    “The supply is tight, but not to the point that we will run out,” Subart added, saying that the price hike will most likely continue through the winter, but eventually come down.
    Page 2 of 2 -  
    “We are asking customers to manage their propane the best they can. We have product, it’s just a matter of what price it is.”
     
      • calendar